Every winter there are reports of death due to 'cold', usually from tarai districts. But a coldwave death has usually been long in the making. Acute respiratory infections including cough and cold, fever, and pneumonia affect nearly a million children under five and thousands of elderly people every year in Nepal. Such infections and malnourishment depress the immune systems of children and older people, and in the severe cold, respiratory infections take a turn for the worse.
This is what kills people in the tarai and mountain regions in the winter.
In the past month, there have been reports of nearly 20 deaths 'due to cold' in Dhanusa, Bara, and Rautahat, but the Department of Health in Kathmandu says it has not received "credible information" to that effect.
One of the major documented challenges in delivering appropriate health services to the districts has been an inefficient system of reporting and recording causes of death. Health experts say thousands of deaths in the mountain areas-where there is a high incidence of child mortality due to respiratory infection-go unreported and un-investigated by government health agencies.